THE LEAST-known Brontë sister will step into the limelight next month – and a new book is being published to mark the occasion.
Anne Brontë Reimagined will be released as literature fans across the world begin celebrating the 200th anniversary of the writer's birth.
Anne is best known as a writer of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but her achievements are often overshadowed by those of elder sisters Charlotte and Emily, writers of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights respectively.
Over the past four years Brontë fans have already celebrated the bicentenaries of Anne's siblings, and Salford-based publisher Saraband has published new books about both of them.
Now it is the turn of Anne Brontë, with Adelle Hay turning a 21st-century eye on the youngest Brontë and declaring her the most radical of the famous siblings.
Saraband's previous books about Charlotte and Emily were written by Sophie Franklin and Claire O'Callaghan, both young academics on the 'modernising' side of Brontë Society debates. Both writers took a fresh look at the sisters' lives and works, highlighting their relevance today.
A Saraband spokesman said Anne, sidelined for so long, now takes centre stage, allowing critics to see just how far-sighted her thinking was, and how she wrote the first feminist novel.
Sophie Franklin has described Anne Brontë Reimagined as sensitive, thoughtful and enriching, while Claire O'Callaghan said it was an important contribution from to studies, showing where's books remain relevant to contemporary culture.
A Saraband spokesman said: "Adelle Hay’s 21st-century take on Anne Brontë explores why the pioneering, outspoken and remarkably talented author has been endlessly sidelined. She aims to paint Anne’s work in a completely new light.
"Viewed by turns as coarse, vulgar, strident, pious, reserved and even, inexplicably, just plain boring, who was the real Anne and why has she been so overlooked?
"Much like her sisters, Anne wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo, but she was prepared to take that one step further. Her views were so far ahead of her time that even Charlotte tried to edit them out of history.
"The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne’s second and most famous novel, was groundbreaking in its subject matter: marital abuse; gender equality; education for girls; alcohol abuse and its effect on family life; and married women’s rights.
"But it also broached the completely suppressed subject of what we now call coercive control."
Adelle Hay believes it is impressive that Anne’s characters still speak to readers today in voices they recognise, about painfully-relevant subjects.
Hay said: "From Agnes Grey’s heartbreaking account of loneliness to Helen Graham’s passion for gender equality in upbringing and education, a 21st-century reader will have no difficulty finding something to relate to in Anne’s works.”
Adelle Hay is a lifelong Brontë aficionada and a passionate advocate for Anne Brontë’s place in the canon of classic English writers.
She is also an author of magical realist, horror and bleak realist short stories. A former bookbinder and member of the Oxford Writing Circle, she is a contributor to their 2016 anthology, Debut.